Taiga

By: Anna Teffeteller

The Taiga

For most of the year, the Taiga is cold and dark. It is often covered in ice and snow. The word Taiga derives from a Russian word that means marshy pine forest. Another word for Taiga is Boreal Forest. Boreal derives from the Greek word Boreas, who who the God of the north wind. The Taiga takes up around 10% of the Earth's land space. it is the second largest biome. An interesting fact about the Taiga is due to the cool temperatures, decomposition is slow, causing undecayed vegetation to build up on the forest floor, making it feel sponge-like.

Vitals of the Taiga

Temperature and Rainfall

The Taiga has a cold arctic climate. The freezing temperatures are brought down from the Arctic Circle. the temperature typically drops more when there are no clouds. Due to the Earth's tilt, the Taiga is turned away from the sun during the winter. The summer is short, hot, and rainy. Fall is the shortest season. In the winter, the average low temperature is -65 F (-54 C). The average high temperature for the winter is 30 F (-1 C). In the summer, the average low temperature is 20 F (-7 C). The average high temperature for the summer is 70 F (21 C).

Rain, snow, and dew are the forms of precipitation. Most of the rainfall occurs in the summer as rain. The average rainfall is around 15-20 inches of rain, but varies depending on the different geographical regions of the Taiga. There are low evaporation rates in the Taiga, which causes this biome to be very humid.

Plants and Trees

Due to the harsh climate, there is not much diversity in the plants. One of the most common plants are the coniferous (evergreens), because this type of tree is perfect for the climate. The Balsam Fir, Siberian Spruce, Eastern Red Cedar, Jack Pine, and Paper Birch are five common plants found in the Taiga. All of these plants and trees are evergreen/coniferous. A common characteristic that all of these plants and trees have is that they all grow to high heights. Most trees in this region have adapted and have wide trunks. Most of their root systems also grow 30 inches into the ground. Lots of the different trees have tough bark to protect them from any harsh weather. The Jack Pine has adapted to grow in flat or hilly areas where the soil is sandy-based. Most pine trees also have a wax like coating on their needles to protect them from weather too. Trees also have long and slender twigs, so the snow will not stick easily to them.

Threats

The main threat to the Taiga is deforestation. In Siberia after the Soviet Union collapsed and currently in Canada, the Taiga has been cut down greatly. In Canada, only 8% of the Taiga is protected, and the government allowed 50% of it to be cut down. The common uses for these trees is paper and lumber, but recently has been more focused on fossil fuels.


Another threat is Global Warming. As the planet starts to get warmer, the deciduous trees will start to grow in the Southern Boreal Forest and take the place of the Coniferous Trees that are currently living there.


The last major threat is human pollution. Acid rain, oil spills, and the expansion of cities are just a few areas of pollution that are having an impact on the Taiga. The acid Rain is a big one, because when too much smoke from factories gets into the clouds it mixes with the water particles and cause there to be acid rain the next time the cloud pours.

Endangered Species

Predator and Prey / Competition

The Canadian Lynx and the Snowshoe Rabbit have a predator and prey relationship. The Lynx is the predator and the Snowshoe Rabbit is the prey. Another example is an owl and a mouse. The Long-Eared Owl is the predator and the mouse is the prey. The Black Bear also feeds on many fish in the Taiga, making the bear the predator and the fish the prey. The Gray Wolf feeds on deer-like animals, such as the caribou or moose. In this scenario, the wolf is the predator and the deer-like animals are the prey.


To reduce competition from where the birds live for most of the year they migrate to the Taiga. When they migrate to the Taiga they are eliminating fighting for the niche in their homes and can easy raise their young in the Taiga without too much worry about competition. However, a form of competition that is in the Taiga is between the plants while fighting for nutrients on the ground, due to the limited space when materials don't decompose. There are less nutrients available for the plants to take in and contain to grow.

Global Importance

The Taiga helps our environment in many different ways. It filters millions of liters of water everyday. Also, with it's massive amount of trees, the Taiga removes carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into oxygen. Humans also use some of the trees for paper, lumber, and fossil fuels, but when gathering lots at massive rates, it can be extremely harmful to the environment.


Animals

Since there are very harsh climates in the Taiga, there aren't very many animals that live there year round. Many birds do migrate there every year to feed and nest. The Bald Eagle, Wolverine, Bobcat, Snowshoe Rabbit, and River Otters have adapted to the conditions of the Taiga. Bald Eagles have changed the way that they build their nests, depending on the different types of trees that they use found in the Taiga. The Bobcat has learned to adapted the the weather conditions, by going through two color changes during the year. It also has adapted its claws and teeth to better suit the environment of the Taiga. The River Otter has adapted by having skin 2.5 inches thick and two different types of fur. The Snowshoe Rabbit has adapted by getting huge snowshoe-like feet to keep itself up while hopping on the snow. They protect it from getting cold and give the rabbit traction. Its' fur color also blends in with the color of the snow, so it helps it hide from predators. The wolverine is built similar to a bear, but is a member of the weasel family and has adapted well to keep itself warm in the freezing temperatures. Its' jaws are also very strong to bite through any frozen meat and bones.


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